Max: Man’s Best Friend, Hero Dog and Marine
“In real life, the dogs are on the front lines, making sure our troops don’t walk onto IED’s [improvised explosive devices]. And when handlers and dogs lose partners, they go through the same PTSD, which is what the film explores.” – Robbie Amell, North Toronto Post, June 2015
Amell commented that he worked with six Belgian Shepherds, who played the role of an active canine service member.
Other cast members include Josh Wiggins as Justin Wincott, Lauren Graham as his mom, Pamela, and Oscar nominee Thomas Haden Church as his dad, Ray. Yakin directed the film from a screenplay he wrote with Sheldon Lettich (“Rambo III,” “Double Impact”). Karen Rosenfelt (“Marley & Me,” the “Twilight” series) and Ken Blancato (“The Book Thief”) produced the film, with Ben Ormand and Yakin serving as executive producers. It features the song “Forever Young” by Blake Shelton.
The film follows a precision-trained military dog, Max, as he serves on the front lines in Afghanistan alongside his handler, U.S. Marine Kyle Wincott. When Kyle is mortally wounded on maneuvers, Max is devastated and shows symptoms of PTSD. He can no longer remain in service. Upon his return to the US, Kyle’s younger brother, Justin, is the only human that Max seems willing to connect with. Max is adopted by Kyle’s family, but Justin has his own issues, including living up to his father’s expectations and grieving for his brother. Justin is initially reluctant to look after the troubled Max. However, he slowly realizes that Max may be his only chance to discover what really happened to his brother that day on the front.
The two of them learn to trust and heal together. With the help of a tough-talking young teen, Carmen, who has a way with dogs, Justin begins to appreciate his canine companion. Through Justin’s patience and attention, Max begins to revert back to his heroic self. Just in time for the pair to try to solve a mystery and learn what really happened to Kyle. They find more excitement – and danger—than they bargained for. They also find an unlikely new best friend in each other.
It is estimated that more than half a million US war veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (source : RAND Corp and other studies)
We are so inspired by this film and the way it tells the story of PTSD from the canine’s perspective through a great story grounded in truth. It shows the true power of the Human-Animal bond and it’s ability to help heal grief and loss.PTSD is a tragic phenomenon that sadly affects too many each year. Most suffer in silence or even commit suicide. The movie Max not only builds awareness of PTSD in human veterans, but opens up a discussion about PTSD in Animals.
“When people connect with an animal there’s a primal bond that often goes beyond what we experience with other people,” says Boaz Yakin, the co–writer/director/executive producer of “Max.”
Is Your Dog A #HeroPet?
Recognizing Hero Dogs
K9s for Warriors: How Dogs Help Soldiers Heal
Earlier this year, at a presentation at Global Pet Expo sponsored by K9 Advantix 11, we had the privilege of talking with Brett Simon, the Director of K9 Operations for K9s for Warriors about his own battle with PTSD.
Brett served in Iraq as a dog handler for the Department of Defence. Upon his return, he and his family noticed symptoms of severe PTSD. Together, they fused their love for dogs and helping veterans to start K9s for Warriors.
K9s for Warriors is a non-profit group that helps veterans with PTSD, sexual trauma and/or traumatic brain injury as a result of military service return to regular life using trained rescue or shelter dogs. Their goal is to give a new leash on life to rescue dogs and military heroes alike, helping empower them to live with dignity and independence.
How to Train, Raise, and Manage a Malinois
The movie “Max” is being released June 26. This movie will show the world the power, loyalty and intelligence of one of the top breeds used by special operations forces and law enforcement all over the world. However, this breed of dog is not a pet for everyone. If you are considering getting a Malinois do your research. They need lots of mental and physical stimulation and training. They are a working breed. Keep them out of shelters. Check out our Breed Library and speak to experts before you adopt any dog into your family.